Why I Love Toronto
A week ago today Heritage Toronto held its annual award ceremony in celebration of the outstanding contributions to the promotion and conservation of Toronto’s heritage. The building I am writing about was one of a few Why I Love Toronto establishments to be awarded that night and this particular building, which won the Award of Excellence, was one I only discovered last week.
I have written the conversion of churches in to lofts/ condominiums before – the post is linked below. The original post I wrote on the topic garnered both positive and negative reviews. It seems that everyone had something to say about living in an old church. I had one private message that asked “if you have premarital sex in an old church would that be even more sinful than doing it elsewhere?” To start I am the wrong person to ask that question for I am no priest, but other than a few people who said it defaced a House of God, the positives outweighed the negatives. Many noted that they would love to live in a church for the same reasons I would which include the stained glass, arched windows, vaulted ceilings with exposed beams as well as brick.
The conversion of churches to residences is not only to aid Toronto’s growing population, but to also restore and maintain its history. Instead of tearing these buildings down they are maintained and given a new purpose. The Victoria Lofts on Annette Street is an example. Once the Victoria-Royce Presbyterian Church, built in 1890 by Knox and Elliot in a Romanesque Revival style, this Junction landmark was given a second chance after closing in 2006.
It is not until you look at the large arches of the exterior that you realize this church is no longer a church. The large arches on the façade of the building once held the churches famous stained glass windows, which have since been donated to St. Paschal Baylon in Thornhill. Today those arches hide the balconies of the new residences, which I find spectacular because it provides shelter, yet still gives you that airy and outdoor feeling. It also keeps the exterior clean from any type of modernity which also preserves its heritage.
Furthermore, and probably the most amazing feature of the building, is that the top floor lofts have exposed arches. From what I could see from outside I was left in awe by the exposure of the beams and after looking at pictures of the inside I was left in even more awe. I have also posted pictures of the penthouse which is absolutely stunning. At 2,540-suqare feet the penthouse was last listed at $1.56 million.
Before the church became lofts it started as the Victoria Presbyterian Church, a name meant to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It got the Royce half of its name when it was amalgamated with the Royce Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1969. It was designated a heritage site for its oversized round-arch motifs, rugged surface and ornate detailing which was common in French and Spanish Architecture.
The battle of whether it is right to convert a religious space into lofts is debatable. Some people are outright against the concept and others are for it. I however do not see a problem and without getting too deep into a religious conversation, which will surely send me hate mail, I will simply say that I rather have a church, that has such architectural value, be converted into lofts or condominiums instead of either being demolished or left to deteriorate with no other option than to demolish it. .
On a brighter note some other awarded Why I Love Toronto buildings include:
That is Why I Love Toronto